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Bridge demolition today

WORTHINGTON -- Crews will begin demolition of the old railroad bridge over Minnesota 60 in Worthington today, with plans formalizing to open up the new four-lane highway from Bigelow to Worthington's beltline, near Worthington Power and Equipment by the end of this month.

The highway opening will trigger the reopening of the rest area south of Worthington for the first time in nearly two years.

"The end is in sight for the year," said Bob Williams, Minnesota Department of Transportation's District 7 project engineer, during a meeting of the Highway 60 Action Corporation Monday in Worthington.

The first phase of the project, a 5.6-mile-long stretch that extends from just north of Bigelow to near Worthington Ag Parts is completed, with the 2.7-mile stretch from Worthington Ag Parts to just south of the Union Pacific railroad bridge to be "substantially complete" within two weeks.

At this time, the plan is to route traffic from the south as far as the first round-about near Worthington Power and Equipment before being detoured to the east to reach Nobles County 33 (the path of the current detour) and ultimately Oxford Street.

Williams said the detour will remain in place until about the end of December as crews work to remove the old railroad bridge, complete earth work and finish construction on the retaining wall.

Next spring, workers will return to the second phase of the project to complete permanent lane markings (a latex paint will be used for temporary striping through the winter), as well as pavement of the medians. Williams said this work may lead to short-term detours.

The primary work in 2013, however, will be on the north side of the railroad bridge up to Interstate 90.

During this phase of construction, U.S. 59 traffic will be detoured to County State Aid Highway 10 (Crailsheim Drive), with Minnesota 60 traffic detoured to either Nobles County 3 and 35 -- or Minnesota 264 for I-90 access.

This phase of the project will include construction of the final two round-abouts, one at the Minnesota 60 intersection with Oxford Street and the second at the east-bound I-90 ramp.

Williams said two completion dates have been set for the 2013 work, with the section from Armour Road to I-90 to be completed by July 31. The earlier deadline was set to cause the least amount of disruption to traffic accessing JBS, Worthington's largest employer that draws more than 100 semi loads of hogs to its processing plant daily.

The work from Armour Road south to the railroad bridge is slated to be completed a year from now, with landscaping on the second and third phases of the project to be done in 2014 with little impact on traffic, Williams said.

During Monday's meeting, questions were posed to Williams on the railroad bridge. He said pavement below the bridge is five feet lower than what used to be there, which will allow a total of 2- to 3 feet of additional clearance for taller vehicles. A 48-inch storm sewer pipe, which is being installed now, will work to keep the area from flooding.

There was also concern about the pedestrian crossing near Nobles Street. Two pedestrian crossings have been created, one at Nobles Street and one farther east.

Worthington City Councilman Lyle Ten Haken asked if safety measures were being planned to notify travelers of the crosswalks.

"I just don't want to see that lost in the shuffle," he said.

Monday's meeting also included a presentation by MnDOT District 7 Design Project Manager Brett Benzkofer on completion of the Minnesota 60 four-lane expansion between Windom and St. James.

That work will be done in three phases, starting with the east gap, a six-mile stretch from Butterfield to St. James, to begin construction in 2013 at a cost of $26.8 million; the middle gap, a 5-mile stretch from Mountain Lake to Butterfield that is estimated to cost $17 to $21 million. That project will begin after the east gap is completed.

The final, west gap, is an 8-mile stretch from Windom to Mountain Lake. The total project cost is estimated at $40 to $69 million, with construction tentatively to begin in 2017, with completion in 2018.

Ten Haken commended MnDOT officials for the work they've done to see this project through to completion.

"To see it come to fruition ... that we can see it completed by 2018 is really exciting news," he said.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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